The Kingston Police are aware of five officers who died as a result of actions that occurred while they were on duty. Their names are inscribed on a memorial at the entrance to police headquarters to remind us of the ultimate sacrifice they made.
The first officer was Sergeant Samuel James Arniel. On the afternoon of April 19, 1919, Sergeant Arniel was escorting a man whom he had arrested back to the police station. The prisoner began to struggle with the officer, attempting to break free. During the course of maintaining control of his prisoner, Sergeant Arniel suffered a massive heart attack and died. Born in Kingston, he was 55 years of age and married at the time of his death.
The second officer was Merritt Carl Gray, who was appointed as a constable on May 3, 1946. On Monday, April 26, 1948, while driving his motorcycle on Princess Street between Clergy and Sydenham streets, he skidded on a patch of oil and into a four-inch unpaved depression in the road. Constable Gray was thrown over the handlebars and suffered massive head injuries, eventually succumbing to these injuries on April 29, 1948. He had been married less than a year. In August 2016 the Great Lakes Police Motorcycle Training Seminar dedicated the Merritt Carl Gray Trophy for the Elite Division in honour of this fallen motorcycle officer.
Just five years after the loss of Constable Gray, the force lost Millard Brennan, who joined the police force on May 1, 1942. In the early hours of August 15, 1951, Constable Brennan was required to arrest a drunken man. There was a scuffle, and the prisoner had to be carried to the police cruiser, as well as to the police cell. Approximately 90 minutes later, Constable Brennan became ill and was taken to a local emergency room, where he died shortly thereafter from a heart attack. Constable Brennan was only 39 years old and left a wife and two children.
Detective Bruce Cooper also lost his life in the line of duty. A 16-year veteran of the force, Detective Cooper received a gunshot wound through a closed apartment door while investigating a domestic incident on Lower Union Street on September 17, 1973. He died on November 8, 1973, leaving a wife and five children.
In the same decade, the force lost 29-year-old John Lau. Constable Lau had stopped his police cruiser at the intersection of Brock Street and University Avenue and was killed instantly when the driver of a stolen vehicle, which was being pursued by anther police cruiser west on Brock Street, lost control and struck Constable Lau’s cruiser broadside. Constable Lau was also married at the time of his death, July 29, 1978.